Can Your Foundation Support a Second Story Addition?

When you need more space but can’t afford to give up a single inch of your yard, the only way to go is up. But wait — can you go up? Can your foundation support a second story addition? The only way to know if it can or what’s needed to “beef it up” is to hire an engineer to assess your home’s current foundation and determine what structural reinforcements will be needed to support all that extra weight.

Calling in Reinforcements

The truth is, most foundations for single story homes aren’t sufficiently reinforced to support the weight of a second story, but there are ways to fix that. That’s where the services of an engineer are required.

Structural Requirements

A second story with occupied rooms will obviously weigh more than your old roof system did, so engineers will need to calculate how much weight the main-floor walls and foundation will carry as well as how best to hold that weight up. That includes soil tests such as drilling into the foundation to examine footings and things like soil compaction. To adhere to building code requirements, second stories require structural support that includes adding plywood and steel connections at main-level walls and extending down into the foundation, and/or installing additional footings or columns.

Other Considerations

When you add additional square footage to your home, nearly all of the home’s systems — plumbing, heating and cooling — will also have to be addressed, since they were sized according to your home’s original square footage. (In other words, you’ll need to factor the cost of upgrading or modifying these systems into your working budget).

Another thing to consider is where to install a staircase in your existing living space. This will mean some demolition which may then make reinstalling drywall, priming and painting a tangible part of your second story addition. Unless carefully thought out, it can also disrupt your first-floor traffic flow! Yes, major remodeling projects usually cause temporary chaos and snowballing projects at times, which brings us to our next food for thought …

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

Because adding a second story addition involves removing your home’s entire roof system, you’ll need to make some temporary living arrangements, at least until the second story is roughed in and a new roof is in place. Yes, the contractor will have protection systems available to protect the rest of your home while it’s without a roof, but it’s not really feasible to live there under those conditions.  And although you may be a little disappointed about the inconvenience, you can console yourself with the thought that you’ll return to a house that’s twice as big!

Putting it All Together

When all is said and done, adding square footage without sacrificing real estate has definite perks, but if you’re realistic, you’ll realize that they come with a price. As long as you’re willing to accept everything that the project entails, you’ll definitely reap some real rewards  —  staying in a house that you love but have simply outgrown, enjoying double the living space and reveling in that extra bathroom you’ve always wished for!

Your first step is to find a contractor who “gets” what you want and who has a reputation for being professional, efficient, fair and proficient! You’ll also want somebody with plenty of experience in building and remodeling (Oh, and make sure they’re insured — no fly-by-night company without insurance is worth the risk, no matter how tempting their price!). Lastly, discover the top 5 questions about second story additions and get some honest answers – if you’re considering going up then you must have asked yourself one of these.

If you’re in the greater Houston area, you’ll definitely want to add Legal Eagle Contractors to your bidder’s list. You’ll find our work exceeds expectations, we provide honest, fair estimates, and we’ve got nearly four decades of practical Houston-area remodeling experience under our belts! If you’re ready to tackle that long dreamed of second-story addition — or any other home remodeling project — why not Contact us today?